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Working alongside my Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik (local affiliate of Save the Children (STC) team), I participated in several field visits to gain first-hand knowledge of what health resources look like outside of Jakarta. On one of these trips, we traveled to the Bandung district in West Java to visit local villages and learn more about the childhood immunization landscape, as well as to monitor the progress of STC’s project, SELARAS (Sederhana Berdampak Luar Biasa or Simple with Tremendous Impact), which aims to reduce newborn mortality through interventions that improve hygiene.

Bandung is Indonesia’s third largest city, but once you leave the city limits, the environment is rural. Geographic barriers like mountains, poor road systems and flooding make it difficult for some women to make it to a health facility in time to give birth – and those that do not reach the appropriate care often give birth at home without a skilled birth attendant.

This is why STC is working with local communities to establish maternity waiting houses, or Rumah Trunggu Kelahiran. Women who may have a difficult time making it to a health facility when they are in labor due to geographic or transportation barriers are encouraged to instead stay at a maternity waiting house as their due date approaches. By building waiting houses, STC is helping to increase a woman’s chances of making it to a health facility that has a skilled birth attendant.

I traveled with my team to the Neglawangi village, a remote community in the middle of a tea plantation, to visit a new maternity waiting house. The village provides transportation to the local hospital, about six kilometers away from the waiting house, and while the house had only just opened, it had already served more than 30 women. Communities surrounding Neglawangi are looking to replicate the success of the village’s birthing house, and I look forward to following the progress they make.

Kristin Manzolillo is a Senior Director within Pfizer’s Global Policy and International Public Affairs organization. In Kristin’s current position, she develops analyses on how changes in U.S. healthcare policy affect Pfizer, patients, providers and other stakeholders, which she uses to develop strategic recommendations. Outside of Pfizer, Kristin is a board member for the Community Healthcare Network, a not-for-profit agency that provides healthcare services to underserved communities throughout New York City.

From April through July 2016, Kristin served as a 2016 Global Health Fellow with Save the Children (STC)’s local affiliate, Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik, in Jakarta, Indonesia. STC is the leading independent organization creating lasting change in the lives of children in need in the United States and around the world. While volunteering for STC, Kristin focused on STC’s advocacy program to promote equitable access to the five basic newborn immunizations for disadvantaged children.